Three numbers, two notes, one quote: Wrapping up Auburn vs. Georgia
There is a lot of work to be done on The Plains. Auburn was handed a brutal beatdown by the Georgia Bulldogs in the second week of the 2020 SEC football season. Some thought that playing the Bulldogs early in the season because of this year’s schedule shakeup might give Auburn and advantage because of Georgia needing to break in a new quarterback and several offensive linemen.
That theory was soundly debunked as the contest showed Georgia clearly outclasses Auburn whether in week two or week 10. The Bulldogs’ fourth straight victory over the Tigers was never really in doubt after the first quarter. Auburn’s offense was unable to find the endzone even once, and the Tigers’ defense was pushed around and beaten up for four quarters.
Today, we look at three numbers, two notes and one quote that give more insight into what happened in Auburn’s 27-6 loss against Georgia.
Auburn’s defense only managed to stop Georgia behind the line of scrimmage two times the entire game. Linebacker Zakoby McClain sacked the quarterback on a blitz and safety Jamien Sherwood made a great tackle for loss on a screen pass. Aside from those plays, the Tigers’ defense did not offer much resistance to the Bulldogs’ offense.
The Auburn defense was unable to get much pressure on Georgia’s first-time starting quarterback Stetson Bennett IV, even when blitzing. Bennett completed over 70% of his passes, threw one touchdown, avoided any turnovers and looked quite comfortable doing so.
To make matters worse, Auburn did not stop Georgia behind the line of scrimmage on one rushing attempt, and there were 45 opportunities to do so. It was startling to see the Tigers’ defensive front get rolled over six yards at a time the whole game. It was expected that Auburn would have issues against Georgia’s defense, but seeing the Tigers’ defense look helpless raises big concerns moving forward.
For the second week in a row, Auburn was unable to consistently stop the opponent on third down. Georgia converted nine of their 14 third-down attempts against the Tigers defense. In Auburn’s game against Kentucky, the defense was eventually able to overcome this problem by creating three turnovers. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Auburn was unable to take the ball away from Georgia, so the Bulldogs put together long drive after long drive.
For reference, SEC defenses stop opposing offenses on third down 43% of the time on average. Auburn is last in the SEC at this critical statistic after two weeks. Defenses that are unable to force punts or generate turnovers on downs tend to lose confidence and get physically worn down over the course of a game. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele must find a way to get this corrected quickly or the Auburn defense is in for a very long season.
Auburn averaged 1.8 yards per carry against Georgia. To be frank, that is abysmal and should never happen to Auburn. The Tigers ended the game with more penalty yardage (46) than rushing yardage (39). The Auburn offensive line was unable to generate any push or create any space for Auburn’s backs to run effectively.
Auburn has allegedly re-vamped its passing attack, but this team cannot find consistent success unless the running game improves considerably.
If there was a bright spot for Auburn against Georgia, it is that running back Tank Bigsby showed he has the potential to be a very good player even as a true freshman. Bigsby showed good patience, vision and ability to break tackles while carrying the ball. He also was the Tigers leading receiver with seven catches, including one outstanding grab on the sideline for a first down.
Bigsby got the starting nod at running back because Shaun Shivers was injured, but expect him to develop into the workhorse of this Auburn offense. In addition to displaying a diverse set of skills, Tank Bigsby also showed a lot of heart and competitiveness. If Bigsby can stay healthy and protect the football, expect him to be the Tigers’ leading rusher for the next few years.
There are plenty of examples that could go here, that’s just the way it is when a team suffers such a comprehensive loss. Maybe the most perplexing scenario was when Coach Gus Malzahn chose to kick a field goal from the 4-yard line while trailing 24-0 right before halftime.
The argument could be made that the team just needed to take any points possible. However, by that point, it was apparent that touchdowns would be hard to come by for the Tigers against Georgia, and they may not get that close to the goal line again (which proved to be true). Additionally, even if Auburn went for the touchdown and did not convert, the Tigers would be trailing by three touchdowns which was the same outcome of making the field goal. The only difference would be that Auburn would need to make good on two-point conversions instead of extra points.
“They won the line of scrimmage. We really got whipped on all three phases. We got out-coached.” – Auburn coach Gus Malzahn after losing 27-6 to Georgia.
Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: email@example.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw